Steady Ride 4 – 26 April 2015 (Capheaton)

Steady Ride 4 Report (26 April 2015)

After a brilliant week of weather, Sunday dawned cold and breezy, but better than forecast with clear blue skies.  A 20+ group left Chester le Street headed for Capheaton Cafe.  Out via Birtley, Ladypark and the under / over route through Dunston, we headed over Newburn bridge and climbed out through Throckley, Dalton, Black Heddon and onwards to the cafe that time forgot (but not the cyclists of North East England).  The wind made wardrobe choices tricky – warm in the sunshine, but cold in the shade, there was one or two clothing adjustments on the way up with gilets being stuffed into jersey pockets.

Capheaton on a sunny Sunday always pulls in a good crowd, but we managed to time our arrival with a group departing, so we grabbed a nice seat in the sunshine outside for a nice cup of tea and a sit down to refuel and have a bit craic, spill hot coffee and play red sauce brown sauce predictions.

After Capheaton stop we headed north for a bit before gradually turning west through the lanes. Unfortunately Rob got a puncture on this section which was pitted with potholes and gravel in the middle of the single-road lane. Having fixed that, we passed Little Bavington, encountering a light headwind and then turned left towards Hallington. Again, we had a puncture victim, this time it was Gareth and we were entertained by another of Trevors famous instructional video series on fixing all things mechanical. Surprisingly, there were a few vehicles on this section of single-track road but we passed unhindered and, for those of us with prior knowledge, the climb of the Ryals in the back of our mind.

With everyone together, we started the climb which is all innocent and gets people saying ‘What’s all this about?!? Having descended a little after the first short ascent, the serious business begins, and Ryals virgins see what makes this such a great climb. The bunch split a little although there were only seconds in it by the time everyone crested the second rise. That is the one which Ryals virgins think is the top – only to have another short descent and the final ‘business end’ climb to the actual top. As before, there were splits but we all got to the top within a couple of minutes, including a very impressive ascend by debutant Claire Galland.

Having regrouped at the Ryals crossroads we descended into Maften where there was a bit of friendly attacking. At Maften we turned right towards the Military Road, whereupon we encountered a very short shower of hailstones. Fortunately, this was the only instance of any wet stuff, despite the forecasters promises.

Having hit the Military Road, we turned south after a short distance and dropped towards the A69. Having negotiated the sharp lefthand bend at Bywell, we took the route via Ovingham where temporary traffic lights split us up but fortunately the first group waited before Wylam. Having taken the usual track by the nature reserve/garden centre, we followed the road through Crawcrook and back to Blaydon. Unfortunately we had two punctures on this stretch but managed to fix both at the same time (rather than fix one, cycle on, and then fix the other).

We returned through Team Valley but on the ascent of the three steps under the main line railway bridge, disaster struck for David, a guest from Hartlepool CC when his chain was spagettied around his rear block and just about everything else (think figure-of-eight chain pattern). This looked terminal but Ian and particularly Trev had a go at fixing it.

Thanks to everyone for their support – it was a day full of surprises. I was amazed that we all kept together up to the chain incident at Low Fell. The weather was excellent and while it was not hot, was warm for most of the day without rain. There were a lot of punctures (Rob got four alone), partly as a result of very badly pitted-roads in Northumberland. Finally, thanks to Richard Ritz for the idea of Capheaton.

Peter Scott / Mal Gray

Pictures credits: Peter Scott / Jonathon Foreman

  • Early on.